Review: Hyundai Robex 250LC-9 excavator

By: Ron Horner, Video by: Micheal Grassick

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

A Hyundai Robex 250LC-9 excavator is being put to work removing material from atop a road embankment – a tricky and dangerous job says Ron Horner

A couple of months ago I was fortunate to review a brand new Hyundai 250LC-9 excavator as it came off the float from the distributors in Brisbane.

Andy Haggarty, of Caldme Excavations from Tamborine Qld, told me this machine was designated to become his third long reach excavator in his fleet.  

Haggarty reckons that they are as good as you can get for his application and has had a brilliant run with several other Hyundai excavators over the years. Porter Equipment has also been a solid distributor and parts supplier so he just stuck with what was proven.

In his yard upon arrival, I saw a Hyundai 210LC-9 long reach excavator on a REMU Big Float pontoon undergoing repairs after recently purchasing it for a WA mine contract. Beside the shed was another 45t Hyundai long reach excavator having the final paint touches done after coming home from a 12 month stint away and just off the float was a brand new Hyundai 250LC-9 with Ronnie’s on the door. Well fancy that!

That was way back in April of this year so let’s fast forward six months, add 250 hours to the clock and take a nice little road trip to catch up with the revamped 250LC-9 Hyundai excavator, complete with newly fitted 16 meter long reach boom and arm. More importantly though, catching it in full working mode on a project on the scenic northern rivers of NSW.

Hyundai-Robex-250LC-9-excavator
This close to the edge, strict safety protocols are required

ON THE JOB

After keeping a very close eye on the movements of this machine I finally had the chance to get an up close and very personal look at the 250LC long reach in action.

Located between Grafton and Glenn Innes, tucked away in the scenic beauty of northern NSW, it is front and centre of a very delicate and dangerous project involving 20,000 cubic metres of rock face removal from a road cutting affected by rock slippage.

Tucked 30m high up on a rocky ledge of some 100 metres in length I found Scotty Bendall, a well-seasoned and extremely competent long reach excavator operator who just loves "living life on the ledge".

This is no mean feat being placed so high up on an extremely steep incline with men and machines working below and mostly out of the operator’s vision. In this case, close radio and visual contact with the spotters is of utmost importance.

The strata formation of this mudstone rock has caused untold grief for road users over the years, particularly after heavy rains when slope slippage blocked the highway for lengthy periods. Intermittent expansive clay seams, topsoil deposits and naturally formed gullies within the mudstone added to the danger and difficulty in safely executing the delicate task of ripping, shaping, placing, removing and loading out the excavated materials whilst the highway was under full public use.

Just goes to show the importance of planning and preparing for the worst case in projects with this amount of difficulty and danger involved. Execution of a job like this could not be achieved without the support of a very competent and capable traffic control management operator and specific management systems designed for the project.

However, we should not forget the engineers, supervisors, operators and site labourers who also have to be totally focused on the tasks and implementation of the site specific safety systems.

Hyundai-Robex-250LC-9-excavator
Excellent vision in the cab

IN THE CAB

The previous new cab smell has long gone. With 250 hours on the clock and having been operated on 10-hour shifts in a bushland setting of a semi-remote location, that soon takes away the unique freshness away, replaced with that well used and lived in feel we are all far too familiar with.

Compulsory items are carefully placed behind the seat such as clean rags, emergency tools, window cleaner and a cleaning brush – all of which come in handy during a day’s hard work, especially if the work ute is parked well off your dig area.

Eventually getting my mind back on the job, my body then stepped up to the plate and reminded me of the comfortable seating that someone had perfectly set to suit my short legged, fat arsed, big bellied body. It was truly as if I had pre-set the operator’s seat myself.

Great vision from the big glassed cabin, which for some reason seemed to me to be a touch wider than normal, an MP3/CD player with remote control, small cup holder and an ashtray, plenty of storage compartments and, keeping up with technology, a hands free mobile phone with USB connector – fantastic.

In perfect view is the large 7-inch LCD monitor that makes it easy to check all the critical systems via the easy to read indicators.

The advanced CAPO (computer aided power optimization) system tunes engine and pump power to optimum levels. Multiple mode selections are available for various workloads, maintaining high performance while reducing fuel consumption. Features also include auto deceleration and power boost whilst the system monitors engine speed, coolant and hydraulic oil temperature. Contained within the system are self-diagnostic capabilities, which display error codes on the monitor.

Just sitting there is an experience everyone should enjoy at least once in their lives! 

Combine all of this with the fully adjustable air operated seating (optional bum warmer available) and you have an office capable of housing the operator until the fuel runs out. It is a real experience sitting in the cab of a long reach with a boom swinging some 16m away from your feet.

Hyundai-Robex-250LC-9-excavator
15-tonne ripper fitted to this machine

To operate one of these safely, the operator had better have some patience, some serious excavator operating skills and an appreciation of line and level digging. In this particular operation by ‘line’ I mean the tracks need to be sat at right angles to the top of the batter cut and some distance from the edge.

Excavating over the side on a machine with such a long reach and extremely steep batters could not only cause a roll over but also places extreme weight distribution pressure on the fault zones in the material being excavated.

There is no escape from a major rock slippage under your track frame and the end result, at this height, could end in fatalities.

When I discuss level digging in this application I mean keeping your work base level at all times. Due to the lightweight design and fabrication of the long reach boom and dipper the operator will have to be extremely careful when traversing the site.

The operator has to carry the boom and dipper close to the levelled ground as it takes just a few seconds to topple over if you have the boom extended to full height and travel across a slope.

Long reach rollovers are far too common and it comes down to operator error of judgement causing injuries and a heavy cost of repair.

Remember that side-slew cleaning of the floor can also lead to a bent boom or twisted dipper and that will take some explaining.

On this machine the ripper used is designed to suit a 15t excavator and is more suited to this application. If Haggarty has to increase the size of the bucket or place the machine on a job requiring a heavier lift he may look at increasing the counterweight by inserting a one ton splice between the counterweight and the rear of the body, which would assist in stabilising the machine.

Hyundai-Robex-250LC-9-excavator
Hydraulics and fuel filter easy to access

UNDER THE HOOD

Access to the side covered hydraulics, fuel filters for servicing and the radiator/oil cooler system are all ground-based access, which makes life easy for everyone. Lubrication points are all centrally located barring boom, bucket and dipper, but they are designed to take the pain out of greasing up.

The Hyundai 250LC-9 runs the tried and true 406 cubic inch, Cummins QSB6.7 turbo charged, water cooled, four-cycle six-cylinder diesel engine with direct injection. It drives the 2 x 222 litre per minute variable displacement tandem axis piston pumps, which complement the machine’s performance overall.

Chuck 400 litres of fuel into the tank on this well balanced little 25 tonner and you have got yourself a neat little workhorse that has for many years impressed the industry.

Hyundai-Robex-250LC-9-excavator
Ron Horner and Scotty Bendall

THE BOTTOM LINE

I knew the day would come when I could get my hands on this little digger once it was set up with the long reach.

What I didn’t appreciate at the time was how impressed I could be with the set up once it was in work mode. I commented that I didn’t think that there would be anything to disappoint me with the machine and its long reach modifications, and how correct was.

Great machine, great operator, great work site, great outcome … this Hyundai 250LC-9 has impeccable breeding from impeccable bloodlines and I give it a two thumbs up from me.

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